One of the most grown-up review sites around

54,416 reviews
and more.. and still writing ...

Search MusicWeb Here



International mailing

Founder: Len Mullenger                                    Editor in Chief:John Quinn             

Some items
to consider

new MWI
Current reviews

old MWI
pre-2023 reviews

paid for

Acte Prealable Polish recordings

Forgotten Recordings
Forgotten Recordings
All Forgotten Records Reviews

Troubadisc Weinberg- TROCD01450

All Troubadisc reviews

FOGHORN Classics

Brahms String Quartets

All Foghorn Reviews

All HDTT reviews

Songs to Harp from
the Old and New World

all Nimbus reviews

all tudor reviews

Follow us on Twitter

Editorial Board
MusicWeb International
Founding Editor
Rob Barnett
Editor in Chief
John Quinn
Contributing Editor
Ralph Moore
   David Barker
Jonathan Woolf
MusicWeb Founder
   Len Mullenger


Advertising on

Donate and keep us afloat


New Releases

Naxos Classical
All Naxos reviews

Chandos recordings
All Chandos reviews

Hyperion recordings
All Hyperion reviews

Foghorn recordings
All Foghorn reviews

Troubadisc recordings
All Troubadisc reviews

all cpo reviews

Divine Art recordings
Click to see New Releases
Get 10% off using code musicweb10
All Divine Art reviews

All APR reviews

Lyrita recordings
All Lyrita Reviews


Wyastone New Releases
Obtain 10% discount



AmazonUK AmazonUS

Giacomo PUCCINI (1858 - 1924)
Tosca (1900)
Karita Mattila (soprano) - Tosca; Marcelo Álvarez (tenor) - Cavaradossi; David Pittsinger (bass) - Angelotti; Paul Plishka (bass) - Sacristan; George Gagnidze (baritone) - Scarpia; Joel Sorensen (tenor) - Spoletta; James Courtney (baritone) - Sciarrone; Jonathan Makepeace (treble) - Shepherd; Keith Miller (bass) - Jailer; The Metropolitan Opera Orchestra and Chorus/Joseph Colaneri
rec. live, HD transmission, 10 October 2009
Production: Luc Bondy; Set Designer: Richard Peduzzi; Costume Designer: Milena Canonero; Lighting Designer: Max Keller
Picture format: 16:9; Sound format: LPCM Stereo / DTS 5.1 surround
Bonus features: Backstage at the Met with Susan Graham
VIRGIN CLASSICS 6419739 [137:00]

Experience Classicsonline

Karita Mattila sang her first Tosca some four years ago at the Finnish National Opera in Helsinki and was greatly admired by Bill Kenny (see review). She was then already scheduled to sing the role at the Met. Finnish opera lovers were obviously just as overwhelmed as Bill and, as he concluded his review, they ‘are booking already to follow her to New York’. I have no idea how many compatriots actually were there for the opening night, but those who were not, were, I hope, able to see the live broadcast and those who couldn’t manage that have a golden opportunity with this DVD. Bill wrote about the Helsinki performance that it ‘turned out to be the most subtle and sensitive portrayal of Puccini's diva heroine seen for many a long year. Mattila's Tosca isn't merely the confident opera star: she's a woman deeply in love whose jealousy is tentative, touching and understandable rather than strident and angry. She's impossible not to like’. I couldn’t agree more.
The first winner of the Cardiff Singer of the World Competition in 1983 she has just turned fifty but there are no signs of vocal decline. On the contrary her voice has gained further spinto quality while retaining the lyrical bloom and sensitivity. Always a good actor she had been accused of over-acting during the first performances in Helsinki, according to Bill’s review. Well, she doesn’t exactly play the role straight and even I thought she was over the top, but to me Tosca is, and has always been, the epitome of a character on the verge of a break-down, of total chaos and hysteria. Being an artist, she knows how to express her feelings in a larger-than-life manner. To stand up against the tyrannical Scarpia requires a tigress, barely hiding her claws and in the second act Mattila mentally arches her back against the Chief of Police’s advances. But she can be loving and joyful in the first act duets with Cavaradossi - and jealous! Sparks fly visually when she identifies the portrait of the Madonna. She is so vulnerable and helpless in Vissi d’arte, determined in her search for the safe-conduct and in the last act confident and almost overbearing - until she realizes that the fake execution wasn’t a fake at all. This is as rounded a portrait of Floria Tosca as one can ever expect to see - and with singing to match. But, again, this is my personal view and I have even seen Tosca in a concert performance long ago with a Tosca, who had the looks and bearing of Callas but sang the role almost motionless, score in hand, and still could convey all the emotions with her voice and her facial expressions. I remember reading some negative reviews from the Met premiere and wasn’t too hopeful when I started my reviewing séance. I may have nerves of steel but I didn’t understand what the fuss was about.
As on the recommendable Tosca DVD from Verona, recorded in July 2006, Marcelo Alvarez is an admirable Cavaradossi, ardent and thrilling but with lyrical softness and creamy tone that allows him to sing a ravishing E lucevan le stele and, an even more enchanting, O dolci mani. He is no mean actor and makes the painter come alive and stand out as something more than a good tenor singing good arias.
The great surprise is however the Georgian baritone George Gagnidze, whom I had never heard before. He has already made his mark in several big opera houses, including La Scala and The Metropolitan, where he was a superb Rigoletto during the 2008-2009 season. I can understand the superlatives I have read, since here is a singer with a well schooled and expansive baritone, dark in the lower register but with almost tenoral brilliance at the top. He is an expressive actor as well, working with rather restrained means and he knows how to colour a phrase memorably. His Scarpia was no cardboard villain but a monster of flesh and blood; yes, even with a glimpse of human warmth. I have seen many great Scarpias live through the years, including Ingvar Wixell in the 1970s and in recent years Juha Uusitalo and Sergei Leiferkus, all of them deep-probing actors as well as formidable singers. George Gagnidze on this hearing and viewing might well join their company.
The rest of the cast is fully acceptable, though the well-seasoned Paul Plishka may seem over-ripe vocally these days. But a good Sacristan first of all needs stage presence and charisma and Plishka has both in abundance.
So far so good then, but there were other disappointments. This production replaced an old and much loved one, signed Zeffirelli, which I haven’t seen. Knowing some of his other productions, not least the spectacular Turandot, which I saw at the Met a year ago, I have an idea of what could be expected. Where Zeffirelli is lavish, Peduzzi is merely dull, functional with no frills. And Luc Bondy, who allegedly has declared that he doesn’t like this opera, clearly shows this in an unimaginative reading. I wonder why he accepted the task in the first place.
So readers who want Tosca to be a feast for the eye as well as for the ear should be warned. They are best advised to avoid this set completely or at least try to see some glimpses of it first (see Youtube). A far better proposition is the Verona production mentioned above. But for great singing of the three central roles and with conducting that in no way lets the performance down, the present set is well worth owning. And you can always listen to it without the visuals …
Göran Forsling














































Making a Donation to MusicWeb

Writing CD reviews for MWI

About MWI
Who we are, where we have come from and how we do it.

Site Map

How to find a review

How to find articles on MusicWeb
Listed in date order

Review Indexes
   By Label
      Select a label and all reviews are listed in Catalogue order
   By Masterwork
            Links from composer names (eg Sibelius) are to resource pages with links to the review indexes for the individual works as well as other resources.

Themed Review pages

Jazz reviews


      Composer surveys
      Unique to MusicWeb -
a comprehensive listing of all LP and CD recordings of given works
Prepared by Michael Herman

The Collector’s Guide to Gramophone Company Record Labels 1898 - 1925
Howard Friedman

Book Reviews

Complete Books
We have a number of out of print complete books on-line

With Composers, Conductors, Singers, Instumentalists and others
Includes those on the Seen and Heard site


Nostalgia CD reviews

Records Of The Year
Each reviewer is given the opportunity to select the best of the releases

Monthly Best Buys
Recordings of the Month and Bargains of the Month

Arthur Butterworth Writes

An occasional column

Phil Scowcroft's Garlands
British Light Music articles

Classical blogs
A listing of Classical Music Blogs external to MusicWeb International

Reviewers Logs
What they have been listening to for pleasure



Bulletin Board

Give your opinions or seek answers

Pat and present

Helpers invited!

How Did I Miss That?

Currently suspended but there are a lot there with sound clips

Composer Resources

British Composers

British Light Music Composers

Other composers

Film Music (Archive)
Film Music on the Web (Closed in December 2006)

Programme Notes
For concert organizers

External sites
British Music Society
The BBC Proms
Orchestra Sites
Recording Companies & Retailers
Online Music
Agents & Marketing
Other links
Web News sites etc

A pot-pourri of articles

MW Listening Room
MW Office

Advice to Windows Vista users  
Site History  
What they say about us
What we say about us!
Where to get help on the Internet
CD orders By Special Request
Graphics archive
Currency Converter
Web Ring
Translation Service

Rules for potential reviewers :-)
Do Not Go Here!
April Fools

Untitled Document

Reviews from previous months
Join the mailing list and receive a hyperlinked weekly update on the discs reviewed. details
We welcome feedback on our reviews. Please use the Bulletin Board
Please paste in the first line of your comments the URL of the review to which you refer.